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December 18, 2013

Data centres hidden in plain sight in Tech City

I had walked past a London data centre numerous times, never knowing it was there.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Today I went on a trip to visit Interxion’s data centre, located on Brick Lane, in the shadow of the financial district and in the heart of Tech City.

Managing Director, Doug Loewe assured me that Interxion’s strategy of basing their office and data centre in such a location was not only to be in close proximity to customers, but also to be "hidden in plain site."

Having been shopping in the Shoreditch area many times before, I was shocked to realize that I had in fact walked past both the Interxion head office and their data centre (in a separate building) on numerous occasions before, without even realizing.

Their offices are located in the Truman Brewery building and getting the train into Shoreditch High Street station I saw an old tall stack with ‘Truman’ boldly printed down the side. Looking just out beyond that, the Gherkin also stands out from the skyline, with Canary Wharf on the horizon looking further East.

For me, this totally visualized what Loewe later said to me: "We are a stone’s throw from the London Stock Exchange, so it was very prudent to be able to be here from a geographic proximity perspective.

"As time marched forward, what ended up happening was this turned out to be an ideal convergence of not just the financial community, but also the digital media community and also the artistic community.

"So instead of the neighbourhood running its course and suffering from entropy and being one type of vertical or community, it’s a rich tapestry and a very diverse group of companies.

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Loewe added: "So just like with Interxion, mass attracts mass, the same has occurred in the neighbourhood: anywhere from established companies to start ups."

I am used to seeing data centres out in the countryside, a clinical building with the lights off, cold from air conditioning and humming with the buzz and whir of servers. But this building is just off a busy high street, discreetly signposted and with top security, but alive with people.

In the short time I was in the building, people were constantly checking in and out using biometric security and tight ID regulations to access various areas, but I was astonished by the buzz not just from the servers and batteries, but from the people. This data centre was lively and embodied the company’s name: seeing the interaction between it’s workforce, their service and machinery and their customers.

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